This Mississippi town is preserving its charm
If you’re looking for a weekend destination, set your sights on Laurel, Mississippi. It's a lovely small town about 30 minutes northeast of Hattiesburg, and it's the perfect spot for a family trip. HGTV’s new Southern couple calls Laurel home, and we are completely charmed. Erin and Ben Napier are Mississippi’s answer to Waco, Texas’ Chip and Joanna Gaines, and they are just as welcoming as their hometown. In fact, their show is called Home Town, and it follows their renovation adventures as they help a new-to-Laurel family find and fix up a place to call their own. Here are five fun things you have to do if you find yourself in Erin and Ben’s Southern stomping grounds.
1. Have the Laurel Main Street Experience
Laurel is a quintessential small Southern town, and Erin and Ben are working to preserve the close-knit charm that defines their community. Laurel’s Main Street is the perfect place to experience that sense of community. Over the past few years, it has become a bustling destination filled with inspired shops, restaurants, and events—like the annual Chili Cook-Off—that bring the entire town out to play. As Laurel mayor Johnny Magee said in his 2017 State of the City address, “New businesses are opening all over town, and downtown Laurel is experiencing a major revival.”
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2. Explore Art with the Whole Family
Stop by the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, which offers thought-provoking exhibitions and stunning collections of silver, American art, European art, and Japanese woodblock prints. The museum’s children’s pottery classes and seasonal festivals provide fun for everyone. A visit to this fantastic museum is always at the top of any Laurel to-do list.
3. Shop Erin and Ben’s Picks
While in Laurel, you can’t miss Laurel Mercantile Co., Erin and Ben’s downtown shop filled with heirloom wares and inspired goods. Whether it’s a cast-iron skillet, an heirloom rolling pin, or a candle that smells of sweet olive blossom, you’re guaranteed to find something that you’ll want to take home and treasure.
4. Celebrate a Day in the Park
For 45 years, the Laurel Arts League has hosted Day in the Park, a festival that brings the entire town together for a spring celebration. Held in May every year, the event has something for everyone—music, a 5K race and fun run, great food, arts and crafts, and enough activities to keep kids entertained all day. It’s the epitome of a small-town Saturday, and it's held in Laurel’s Mason Park.
5. Enjoy a Classic Laurel Treat
After exploring Laurel’s parks, oak-lined streets, and downtown shops, you’ll want to stop by one of the town's restaurants and bakeries for a meal. Try Lee’s Coffee and Tea for, sure, coffee and tea, but also paninis and French onion soup; Sweet Somethings Bakery for cookies, candies, and truffles; and Cafe la Fleur for a lunch or dinner with New Orleans flair.
It’s an exciting time to visit Laurel, because this Mississippi town is quickly becoming an unmissable Southern destination. Check out other small towns around the South, such as Paris, Texas, and Helen, Georgia, for travel inspiration, and plan a memory-making trip with your family soon.